A Cappella Innovations

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Postby vocalmark » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:46 pm

borski wrote:What is it's aim?

Is it bad that I read this the first time as "What is its A-I-M? (as in, aim username)


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Postby bstevens » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:32 pm

Liquid5th-Mark wrote:
borski wrote:What is it's aim?

Is it bad that I read this the first time as "What is its A-I-M? (as in, aim username)


I'd like to know what Bill thinks!
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Postby appbigcountry » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:49 pm

Liquid5th-Carl wrote:
appbigcountry wrote:Speaking of the Dalai Lama, this one time I jumped ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? "Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga."

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?" And he says, "Oh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me. Which is nice.

Not even gonna touch this one, just thought I'd say WTF was that all about? You know you're my boy Matt.

What? You've never seen Caddyshack? I just thought I'd throw a little humor in this thread and that's the first thing that came to my mind during the Dalai Lama name drop. Plus you know how prone I am to randomness.

Chris wrote:This thread's better than Idol.

(nodding in agreement)

This is totally going to surpass the BOCA thread, and is way more interesting.
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Postby liquid5thcarl » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:10 pm

Sorry Matt,

Its been a while since I've seen Caddy Shack, but I definitely appreciate the attempt at humor.

Others have tried as well.

Carl Taylor Producer Transit - 2009 - Present Appalachian State Higher Ground - 1999-2002 carl[at]liquid5th[dot]com http://www.liquid5th.com/

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Postby billhare » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:17 pm

bstevens wrote:
Liquid5th-Mark wrote:
borski wrote:What is it's aim?

Is it bad that I read this the first time as "What is its A-I-M? (as in, aim username)


I'd like to know what Bill thinks!

My AIM is true - Elvis (Costello)


Sorry... tired, sick, got nothin'!

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Postby dekesharon » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:35 pm


Thank you so very much for responding in detail. Obviously you care a great deal about all this, which means a lot.

I would still very much like to hear from Keith himself (as he's the head honcho), but you bring up some really good points and I'd like to know more:

Clare wrote:First, I know the people who back Rick Ross to fabricate the cult controversy through a carefully funded, politically orchestrated campaign of media and law.

Can you be more specific? Who is funding him and his efforts? And why?

(Rick Ross is the guy who has a web site with many articles about NXIVM and Keith).

And also, when doing a big web search, I have to say I can't find any positive articles about either Keith or NXIVM. Any idea why?

Clare wrote:Here are some references relating to Rick Ross:
Here is what Rick Ross believes is acceptable conduct:
Here is the judge’s opinion of Rick Ross in that case:
Here is an excerpt of a psychiatrist’s opinion of Rick Ross:
Here is Rick Ross’s past criminal history:
Here is an article in a reputable news source about Rick Ross:
These references are difficult, but not impossible, to find on the internet because of political protection.

I tried to find out who the realrickross blogger is, or any other info, but these articles seem to be the long and short of it, which I have to say is not impressive. Rick Ross, imperfect as he is, stands behind his work and statements.

I did find a wikipedia article about him that seems carefully vetted:


Interesting guy.

I'm sure you'd agree that there's value in having a person who posts information about cults. Why do you think he thinks NXIVM is a cult and Keith is a dangerous guy?

Clare wrote:Keith tends not to talk about his achievements and has always kept very quiet about the people he knows.

Hmm. His web site talks about his achievements (reading at age 2, etc), but they're neither very recent nor reflected in the media. And also, let's be honest - as humble as he is, he's a business man who relies on his reputation, as we all do. He probably took part in the bio at keithraniere.com if not wrote it outright. Which isn't a sin at all, and shouldn't be seen as such.

Anyway, what has he done, since you know him well?

Clare wrote:Is he money driven? Although his past businesses have put him in a profit position of over $1 million dollars a month, he did not take this money and lives in the same house he has for the last 20 years: an $80k (purchase price) condominium in a small suburban neighborhood. He lives a very simple, modest life where he teaches voice, piano and invents—he also coaches some to the top people in the world.

So he has/had heaps of money at his disposal, but doesn't/didn't spend it? I'm not sure I understand.

He also got sued by several states for having a pyramid/ponzi scheme. You gotta admit - that looks bad.

Speaking of money, Forbes Magazine said you loaned NXIVM $2 million dollars. That's a whole bunch of money, especially to an organization that charges $10,000 for a seminar (is that right?). And it is/was to be paid off via life coaching as opposed to repaid?

Is that report correct? If so, what did the organization need so much money for?

Clare wrote:Is he power hungry? I have worked with him on the AI festivals and my sister is on the executive board of Nxivm. Keith is respected but often can be convinced to change his mind and is at times outvoted. He is both rational and compromising.

Rational and compromising is good.

Clare wrote:Having watched Keith’s life for the past 5 years (and I know others who have known him for as long as 30 years—Karen Unterreiner, one of the facilitators at the festival) he is neither money driven nor power driven and always strives to do the right thing.

Doing the right thing is also good.

But why so many law suits? One article said that he has several cases currently pending in Albany court. Is that right? That also doesn't look good.

Don't get me wrong - no one has to look good all the time. But there are just a bunch of things floating unanswered. And not answering doesn't look good.

Clare wrote:Here are some facts about Keith Raniere:
This is the preface to Keith Raniere’s book from a prominent academic.

He has a book? I'd love to read it! But I can't find it online. How can I get a copy?

Clare wrote:Keith’s articles have been featured in each edition of Luis Todd’s journal for the past several years and there was a complete edition devoted to Keith. Here is the foreword to Keith’s book: http://www.acappellainnovations.com/luistodd.html

I can't find these journals online either. What kind of journals are they, and what are the articles about? I'd love to read them.

Clare wrote:Here is more information on Keith:
He is noted as one of the 3 top problem solvers in the world and was in the Guinness book under highest IQ, 1989.

You think he'd be smart enough to dodge all this bad press, no?

...sorry. Just attempting some levity.

Clare wrote:Because of Keith Raniere and his creations:
Nancy Salzman, my sister and I had a personal meeting last month with the Dalai Lama on Keith’s ethics program and children’s school. We will have a second meeting with the Dalai Lama this week.

I gotta say, you guys are dumping all this money and time into collegiate a cappella... why not Free Tibet?!? Or AIDS research? Or global hunger?

You gotta admit - it's a little unusual. Your network appears out of nowhere with no background, history or experience in a cappella and all of a sudden throws an a cappella seminar twice a year free of charge at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a pop.

Clare wrote:Nancy Salzman served in Keith’s stead to head the international conference on bioethics for Mexico. (Remember, Nancy is Allegedly the “cult” head right under Keith.)

I can't find this online either. My google skills are apparently waning. Any link?

Clare wrote:Some people who have taken Nxivm programs: Sheila Johnson (co-founder of black entertainment network), Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Ivan Misner (CEO of BNI, see youtube video@4:00mins http://youtube.com/watch?v=rguyMM3oh3Y&feature=related and also read http://www.bnipodcast.com/2007/10/03/episode-025-the-butterfly-effect/ this references a Nxivm training we did on Necker Island), Royalty from several countries, Stephen Cooper, CEO of Enron hired to rectify past ethical problems, Members of 3 past first families of Mexico, many prominent actors, musicians, and athletes.

So why aren't their testimonials splashed on the web site? Or anywhere else to be found, for that matter? I'm not doubting many people have taken the training... but wouldn't some positive words from a number of them do worlds of good to contrast claims of being a cult?

If these people are happy with their experiences, and the point of NXIVM is to help people be more empowered, and y'all have a rather significant PR problem... why not get their endorsements? It's absolutely standard.

You have to understand: your organization is built largely on one man's credibility, and that credibility is suspect throughout any media reports I could find online. The guy's smart and connected... and yet hasn't rectified the situation, and doesn't even speak up here. In our silly little forum, where people want to support and believe him.

Again, doesn't look good.

Clare wrote:Do you think a recommendation from Keith Raniere could help A cappella?

I'm not sure I know what you mean... but for people who don't know him, a brief search on his name is not reassuring. Do you mean a recommendation to people that he has taught? Pullin in some big names? Wait... how about you? Wanna make a call and land the House Jacks a record deal? We'll call the album "Get Down, Clare!" and promise the art will have an equestrian theme.

Clare wrote: How do you think we “pull in” the funding and experts? Do you really think such business people and royalty would be involved if Nxivm was a cult?

Dianetics can get Tom Cruise to say or do about anything for them. I'm sorry, but this doesn't support anything. Doesn't mean you're a part of a cult, but it doesn't refute it either.

Clare wrote:Do you think Keith needs to recruit college students?

Recruit? I don't know. Perhaps future leaders of tomorrow and potential seminar attendees? Doesn't have to be a recruitment move. Could just be good business. A loss leader of sorts.

Let me asK you: why give something free to a bunch of college students, most of whom have plenty of money or their families have plenty of money. As a demographic they're about as non-needy as they come. Community college students? Sure. Dropouts? Absolutely. But these a cappella singers are at private universities, mostly, and many will eventually make bank. They don't need help... they more often need a swift kick in the pants (this weekend's hullabaloo as exhibit A).

Don't get me wrong - I love college a cappella. More than most. Not as much as some of the freaks here. But damn close. And I have spent much too much time helping that community. But I came from it, sang it, loved it, wanted to share it and help it grow. To come from the inside is not unusual. To come from outside, so rapidly and without explanation is, as you see from this thread, suspect.

I don't know what Keith's motives are (and we all have many motives in life). But it does seem to have started with Keith, and then your community snapped into action. Which is also unusual. So many people all of a sudden focused on a cappella because one guy gets an idea.

I started CASA because I wanted to make a career of a cappella. I love it, and knew similar fans and singers needed a community and services. Part of my drive was altruistic - to help people - and part selfish - I can't make a career of something without a community to support it. I make no bones.

I don't know his motives, but so far they have not been forthcoming. And speculation does not favor unfettered altruism on Keith's part.

Explanations in general that speak only of altruism coming from anyone who doesn't look like Mother Theresa are suspect, so he shouldn't take it personally.

Clare wrote:Now it is everyone’s choice who to believe Ross (see above) or Raniere (see above.)

It's not a matter of not believing him - there's nothing much that's been posted by him to believe or not believe. Online you can see him posting repeatedly in another forum (HiIQ topic) and being chatty. Great! You've been welcomed to this community, Keith - please speak up! We're chatty too. And have better breath than the UberMensa folks.

Clare wrote: In the case of people who have attended AI and met me, Siobahn, Keith, Nancy, Lauren, Mark, Karen etc. they have additional data. By continuing to spread the Ross propaganda you support Ross, a criminal. I think most people would not want to do that. I guess we will see if people continue to further his position.

Jesus was a criminal. The Dali Lama is a criminal. I'm not saying Ross is either of them, but a criminal act in his youth does not discredit every word he says thereafter. And he has some legitimate concerns about other organizations.

Information is information, and the source must be considered, and in RR's case I think it is. But there needs to be other information, and I prefer first person information to second or third person information.

Clare wrote:In case some of you did not know, I was ranked 12th in the US and 80th in the world for equestrian show jumping. I came to Keith for help in riding. Keith does not ride nor does he know anything about riding proper. His method of analysis rapidly uncovered things that the best riding coaches of the world could not see. My results were unprecedented.

That's cool! I have no doubt that Keith is capable of helping people, motivating people, providing valuable perspective and insight. And good at problem solving (although he's got a problem right now and isn't really solving it!)

Clare wrote:Keith has done similar things for world class soccer players, musicians, business people, actors, dancers, scientists, weight-lifters and singers. Just because he is approachable and non-assuming do not assume he is not extraordinary.

I don't think anyone doubts his abilities, regardless of their position on the cult issue. He's been successful, and has built a significant organization/community that is able to quickly mobilize money and energy to make things happen. Impressive.

Clare wrote:Is NXIVM a cult? Is Keith a “cult” leader? I think not.

Please understand whereas I think you're a very sweet, caring, motivated woman, it's not enough for you to say you're not in a cult. No one would ever admit to being in a cult, nor would they think they're in one if they are. Scientology? Cult. John Travolta seems like a very nice guy, and I'm sure he could convince the world he's not in a cult. Except that he is.

And to that end, please understand or at least accept that your testimonial isn't enough. The questions are still floating out there.

I'd like them to go away! Who here doesn't like $30,000 dumped into free a cappella festivals twice a year?!?

But they're out there, and I'm stepping up to try and help them get answered to everyone's satisfaction.

Clare wrote:Of course some people who have already “dug-in” their heals will not want to really consider this information. Nxivm is an ethics and critical thinking education program of international distinction and repute. It is not a “cult” by any definition. The prominent people of the world know this. If one believed individuals such as Rick Ross, they would think Oprah, the Pentecostal Churches, Mormon Churches, Amway, Waldorf schools etc. etc. etc. are all “cults.” Just remember, media likes a controversy and no media had called Nxivm a “cult” until Rick Ross created the controversy.

His site says he has gathered "information about controversial groups, some called 'cults'" - which is an appropriate description of the list, from what I know.

Amway is an organization with some serious problems.

The LDS church is controversial. Heck - so is the Catholic church!

I can't find Oprah on there.

Anyway, I can't throw that baby out with the bathwater. I consider his site a public service, if a flawed one.

BTW - can you cite any articles from the pre-Rick Ross period?

Clare wrote:One last note: If you believe the Kristin Snyder suicide story you should probably examine it more closely!

I dunno about it... but it's hardly the only negative press. Easy enough to chip away at one story... but so many?

Clare wrote:Ancient Chinese proverb – If you believe everything you read, better not read.

People here are well read, and by in large critical thinkers. It's one of the things I like most about this community. Plus the Caddyshack references.

Clare wrote: - Clare Bronfman

Thanks again for stepping up and speaking. You've shown yourself to be a person of great character for not shying away from adversity, and engaging in what must be a difficult, frustrating conversation. Very much appreciated!!

(BTW - I kept every word you said in this, as I didn't want you frustrated that you were selectively quoted or responded to. I tried to give everything you said equal consideration)

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Postby dekesharon » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:30 pm

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Postby livingfiction » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:38 pm

Deke has spoken! The leader of our cult will undoubtedly find us our answers! I jest of course, being the Godfather of Modern A Cappella doesn't make you the leader, just the guy who'll put the hit out on ya if he doesn't like your face O.O

I'm gonna come out and say it though Deke, I'm in a cult. I belong to a belief system that is lead by a single man, and if any member fails to agree with him the can be excommunicated from that organization. It's a system of thought, worship, and lifestyle that is strict and focused, and although I may not be the best representation of one of it's members, they haven't kicked me out yet.

Sometimes I invite people over for dinner who aren't members of my cult. I make them food, I speak with them, in fact, the other night I had a couple over who spent the night talking to me about my cult. I answered lots of questions for them, and they've been coming to meetings. They might even join. But if we have these conversations, it's because I'm asked about it, and if they do decide to come, it's because they're interested. There's nothing inherently dangerous about me as a person simply because I belong to this group.

Additionally, we're taught that inviting people to our cult is important, some of us dedicate two years of our lives to travel abroad and teach people about us, hoping they will join us. Some do, some don't.

Now that you know all of this about me, I'd ask, in the several years you've known me, have I ever tried to manipulate you into joining my cult? Deke? Wes? Dave? Carl? Mark? Brent? Take Note Girls? Any college group I've shot, filmed, attended festivals, or worked with in any way? I guess my being a member of this cult isn't enough to make me dangerous.

This "cult" I refer to is of course the LDS faith, and I am willing to identify it as such only because I understand that it fits the view of the same alarmist groups who are attacking NXIVM.

I don't introduce myself as a mormon, I don't hide the fact that I am one, but I consider that information to be simply an aspect of the person I am. It contributes to me, but is not me. I'm just a person, and if someone were to sit me down and insist that I expound on every facet of my life, and my belief system before allowing me to shoot for them, I think I'd politely decline and find work elsewhere.

I have no idea what your religious orientation is Deke. I've known you for years, we've worked together, I've watched you perform, I've hung out with you, event accepted parenting advice from you (baby sign language is gold btw) it's just never come up, because it didn't need to, it has no relevance to our relationship, at least not on my end. That is true in large part because neither of us make it true, we don't put our belief systems in each other's faces, or demand information from and scrutinize each other.

I think wanting to know what's up with ACI is a good thing. I think the question of motivation is a good thing, but I feel like asking someone to break down themselves, and everything they're involved in before associating with them feels heavy, and wrong somehow.

Clare, Keith, I'd love to hear all about why A Cappella Innovations is important to you, I'd love to hear what lead you to create it, I'd love to hear your mission for the event, what you hope to accomplish, and what you want your attendees to come away with. I'd also be delighted to know more about some of the things Deke has brought up, but frankly, that information isn't necessary for me to know I'll continue to support what you're doing with the event.

As I've said before, I wanted to know more about what was going on after the last event, and before I got involved in this most recent one, so I took a class, I spoke to Clare and Keith, they were both completely forthcoming, and the class I took was great, lots of fun, and I thought very helpful. If anything, it brought me closer to my family. I'm not recommending you all run out and take a class, but consider for a moment what it's going to take to answer the question you're asking. It feels to me in some of these posts that questions are being asked with no real desire for honest information, but more as a trap, or some kind of way to badger. As a member of a huge and well established cult, I'm used to those kind of inquiries, they break down relationships and go nowhere.

I think it's up to each of us to decide for ourselves where we want to go and what we want to do. If you're not able to be around someone who might want you to do something you don't want to do, then by all means stay indoors. But honestly, if John Travolta invited me to a party, I don't care that he's a Scientologist, I don't even care if it's a scientologist themed party, sounds like a blast, and I'll let you know how it goes!
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Postby dherriges » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:57 pm

:: applauds Deke's post ::

A voice of wisdom and reason as usual. Those are the legitimate questions that I think we want to see answered by someone from NXIVM... a lot of the other stuff that's been said is beside the point.

Whether or not NXIVM is a "cult" isn't the issue. The whole concept of a "cult" is to some extent an invention of the mass media. NXIVM is an organization that seems to have many cult-like qualities... but so is the Mormon Church, so is the Roman Catholic Church for that matter, so is capitalist society, etc etc etc. - cults aren't necessarily the shadowy, sinister entities we stereotype them as. But that doesn't mean they're not dangerous. Or that they are.

What's troubling isn't NXIVM's "cult" status, or the idea of associating with them if they are indeed a "cult". What's troubling is the lack of transparency about why the heck this organization with some very bizarre qualities (whether or not you believe Rick Ross, I think that much is clear from the way NXIVM presents itself) wants to be so involved in fostering collegiate a cappella. (Whether or not ACI is officially a NXIVM-sponsored event, I think it's clear that for all practical purposes it is one.) Deke asked those questions better than anyone else has yet, so I'll leave my post at this.
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Postby dekesharon » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:04 pm

Thanks, Michael. I think it's great that you're cool with the whole NXIVM crew. I bring up the questions because they're floating unanswered and on many people's minds, and I think it's best to deal with all this stuff now and move on. I hope I'm doing so in a direct yet respectful way.

A couple thoughts:

If the LDS church en masse put on an a cappella event and yet didn't mention the fact that they're LDS or that the event is effectively LDS sponsored, people would wonder why.

Also, if pretty much all the info on the internet about LDS were negative (which of course it isn't), there would be some 'splainin' to do, Lucy!

And I don't think there's anything dangerous about you (or the AI folks) at all. However, if Joseph Smith were alive today and significant questions arose about his motives, and you knew he was reading your questions, and he didn't answer, you'd wonder, wouldn't you?

And dude: Scientology is a seriously twisted and dangerous cult. I don't think that NXIVM is or even could be at that level, nor do I think you want to draw a link between Dianetics and LDS. What they believe is insane, how they charge believers increasingly enormous amounts of money is predatory, and how they treat people who cross them is completely unacceptable. Just so you know:


(and that's just one site - plenty of other anti-Dianetics info is out there, as well as a healthy dose of "everything is fine" Church of Scientology info).

And lest you don't think there are any cults, remember Heaven's Gate? (watch Star Trek, put on your sneakers, and commit mass suicide!), or the People's Temple (move to South America, drink KoolAde, and commit mass suicide!). Cults do exist, spanning the range from essentially harmless to deadly. NXIVM is clearly not a deadly cult... but I did hear those bean wraps were pretty nasty! ;)
Last edited by dekesharon on Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby thatwesguy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:37 pm

I have a few thoughts (...and I hate to be left out of a good ol' flame war, just like we used to have on the Internet back when I was a kid. ;-) )


Seriously, now:

I'd like to commend all those who have gone out on a limb to create something larger than themselves. Do that more, and do more good.

I'd also like to criticize those who have gone out of their way to cause harm to others. Quit it, okay? Just quit it.

Everyone else, get up off the sidelines.


I'd like to commend dB and Deke for their thoughtful posts.

I'd also like to express my discomfort with even just reading about the incredibly inappropriate behavior that's been described in this thread. I want very much to disbelieve it.


The last time I posted here, about a year ago, I was posting to try to understand why anyone would think that I should feel obliged to provide (at no charge) a video instructional series I had put significant work into.

Well, you know, there's room in this world for radically different viewpoints. And of course, that often leads to fights, or at least disagreements. C'est la vie, provided you fight fair. (As Churchill famously said, "When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.")

Anyway, ultimately, the discussion to which I refer left me sufficiently irked that I simply stopped working on the whole thing. I'm not really sure whether that's good or bad, in retrospect, since though I'd like to have continued to do it, I wanted to do it on terms that were clearly unacceptable to some -- possibly even to most. And doing something difficult without the support of the people you're trying to court is just no fun.

That's what I see happening here: people working hard, doing difficult things without the support of at least some of the people they're trying to court.


I went to the first ACI, and I had a perfectly fine time. I wasn't there this year (because I had prior commitments, and not for any other reason). So maybe I have no idea whereof I speak. Feel free to discount this post accordingly.


In the spirit of full disclosure: I am a "survivor" (for lack of a better term) of a full-blown world-recognized capital-C Cult from some years ago. While I harbor no shortage of ill will towards the organization that did me significant harm, I found that the people with whom I had the most contact in that cult were pleasant people out to make a positive difference in the world. Turns out they were seriously misguided, but hey, we all do the best we can.

I strongly recommend that every person do what he or she can to immunize him- or herself from psychological operations that seek to do insidious harm. This immunization is accomplished through education, research, and exercise of reason.

I'd also like to point out that sometimes a bad outcome is not the result of malice, but rather is the result of poor forethought, coordination, communication, and/or process.


I have met Keith Raniere in person. Is he a terribly Machiavellian person out to cause a great deal of harm? Or is he perhaps mankind's savior? Or neither? Man, you're asking the wrong guy. *I* have no idea. All I can say for sure is, I genuinely enjoyed talking with him, and he seemed like an interesting and nice guy to me.

Of all the things to get bent out of shape about in this world, people being "suspiciously nice" seems like it ought to be pretty low on the list. If only an excess of friendliness and even enthusiasm were the big problem in our lives.


But, seriously, now, if someone asks you to do something with which you're not comfortable, refuse. Barring that, though, come on. You like music, I like music, you're a nice person, I'm a nice person. What's say we choose to sidestep the crappy infighting and just make some music together, hey?


I have to ask out loud, because I can still scarcely believe it: someone actually thought it would be a good idea to physically bully a celebrity? Or to ruin a hotel room in the way that was described?


What else can I say? Just ... wow.


So, as I said at the outset. There exist radically different viewpoints out there. As I see it, no one is sufficiently smart that he or she can avoid being wrong sometimes. And I sincerely doubt that anyone is sufficiently grounded or brave that they can avoid being scared from time to time.

And yet, people try to do things larger than themselves all the time. That's potentially scary for the people acting, and also for the people observing. And sometimes people get it wrong. But the important things are no surprise to any of us:

. Get in there and try.

. Be as smart and informed as you can be.

. Be polite.


And I mean it about getting up off the sidelines.
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Postby livingfiction » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:06 am

DekeSharon wrote:Thanks, Michael. I think it's great that you're cool with the whole NXIVM crew. I bring up the questions because they're floating unanswered and on many people's minds, and I think it's best to deal with all this stuff now and move on. I hope I'm doing so in a direct yet respectful way.

A couple thoughts:

If the LDS church en masse put on an a cappella event and yet didn't mention the fact that they're LDS or that the event is effectively LDS sponsored, people would wonder why.

Also, if pretty much all the info on the internet about LDS were negative (which of course it isn't), there would be some 'splainin' to do, Lucy!

And I don't think there's anything dangerous about you (or the AI folks) at all. However, if Joseph Smith were alive today and significant questions arose about his motives, and you knew he was reading your questions, and he didn't answer, you'd wonder, wouldn't you?

And dude: Scientology is a seriously twisted and dangerous cult. I don't think that NXIVM is or even could be at that level, nor do I think you want to draw a link between Dianetics and LDS. What they believe is insane, how they charge believers increasingly enormous amounts of money is predatory, and how they treat people who cross them is completely unacceptable. Just so you know:


(and that's just one site - plenty of other anti-Dianetics info is out there, as well as a healthy dose of "everything is fine" Church of Scientology info).

Deke, thanks for posting so quickly, so I can see that I didn't effectively express what I intended to.

I don't mean to draw any connections between my faith and Scientology, don't know much about Scientology, not qualified to make any such connections. I was using that to illustrate that I don't wish to avoid people from any particular group en masse without trying to give them and their intentions the benefit of the doubt.

And I understand your comparison with the idea of my church hosting an event, which they do, as well as funding several programs that are not directly related to our faith all over the world. But perhaps I have made assumptions that are different from those of other people.

Is this a NXIVM sponsored event? I have no idea, I didn't think it was. So far as I understand it, the primary contributers to the last event were Barbara Bouchey, Sara Bronfman, and Richard Branson. Keith may have founded the festival, but is it in any way related to any of his other companies? I owned The Underground Bookstore with Kurt and other investors, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with LivingFiction Media. Maybe that's where I'm not understanding the idea of holding this company under the magnifying glass.

The point I was attempting to make was based on my association between the event and the NXIVM company, which is simply that many of the producers of this endeavor are "involved" with the other. If the two are a single entity, then I too would be interested to understand the connection, but if they are separate, then I really don't see an issue, and feel that judging what people do in all areas of their lives based on their adherence to ANY set of beliefs is a dangerous prejudice.

As far as why they do it, that doesn't really concern me either. I mean honestly, if I had a big pile of money, and the connections and resources to do and support whatever I wanted, I'd love to do something like ACI. For A Cappella, for Photography, for Film, for poetry, hell, for anything that moved me. I know I try to support causes that I perceive as upholding my values, whether it's donating to scouts, or little league, or a church. I for one am DELIGHTED that such ambitious support has been shown for our art form that has apparently had a strong emotional effect on the founders of this event.

Wes, great to hear from you. I was hoping you'd be there, adding you to the VP mix on stage Sunday night would have been awesome. And I understand you are pursuing some other interests now. I sincerely hopes that doesn't mean I won't see you around these festivals still.
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Postby thatwesguy » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:00 am

Wes, great to hear from you. I was hoping you'd be there, adding you to the VP mix on stage Sunday night would have been awesome. And I understand you are pursuing some other interests now. I sincerely hope that doesn't mean I won't see you around these festivals still.

Thanks, Michael! Not to worry -- you won't get rid of me that easily.

In fact, it was because I was finishing up THJ obligations that I wasn't able to make it.

See you soon!
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Postby scooterbo » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:11 am

Wow. After reading this entire thread, I find a number of disturbing points but I need to address that which I find most personally disturbing, the alleged behavior of my former college group. As a proud alumnus of the Crosbys, I am deeply concerned by what I have read here and what more responsible members of the current group have shared with our alumni in the last 24 hours. As such, I would like to make the following statement:

I've been a somewhat active member of the a cappella community since joining the Crosbys in college. In that time, I have met some truly wonderful people, performed in and seen great shows, and have had memorable and positive experiences in every activity I've ever engaged in around a cappella. I also would like to believe that those people who have known the vast majority of Crosbys over the years have had positive interactions with us both in terms of a lot of fun and a lot of good music. I would ask that this fact be kept in mind while this situation is analyzed.

One of the nice things about the Crosbys is that we have a very active and emotionally involved alumni association. As I'm sure is true for many of the posters and readers here, our membership in our college group was an integral part of our college experience and is responsible for our core groups of friendships to this day. We have a vested interest in maintaing what, until today, I felt was a pretty positive legacy that had been established of quality college a cappella.

Since our alumni membership is strong, I can assure the readers of this forum that this situation will be addressed. The upcoming spring show for the Crosbys represents 25 years of a cappella at Binghamton, and it will be the largest gathering of current and past members to date. We will make sure that the current group gets the message that this alleged behavior will not be tolerated.

Those of us who have been around for a while have seen how groups eb and flow throughout the years as memberships change. I urge people here not to pass judgement on the whole due to the actions of a couple bad actors. I recognize that some will counterdict this statement by pointing out that actions by members of a group correlates to actions by the group. This is a valid point. However, as a student affairs professional, I also know that college students are capable of, frankly, stupidity and that addressing that stupidity is part of the growth process. I'm sure that, if you reflect, you will find that members of your former groups did some pretty stupid things in their time too (admittedly perhaps not to this level). I'm sure you would agree that you would want the actors addressed, not the group as a whole.

I hope this rambling makes sense as I am thinking quickly (this is pulling me away from much needed "real work") but I felt it important to address as a Crosby alumnus and an active participant in an art form that I truly love. I look forward to seeing many of you in the future.

Jim Fowler
Binghamton Crosbys 1994-1998
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A Cappella Innovations

Postby LRSalzman » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:54 am

I apologize for the delay, I have had, and continue to have, many reservations about posting anything for a variety of reasons. However, in the interest of being charitable, as Ben so aptly put it, and because of my desire to maintain my own belief in the good will and kind spirit of others I am choosing to participate in this forum.

My name is Lauren Salzman, my mother is Nancy Salzman (Owner and CEO of NXIVM). I have known Keith for 10 years. He has been my friend and mentor and has set a good example for me of standing up for your beliefs in the face of adversity even if it means being unpopular. He is a humble and gentle person, always respectful of others and always seeking to find, inspire, fuel and uphold the good in all things. My interactions with Keith over the years have contributed to my having more joy, better relationships, better business skills, an increase in my earning capacity, and a more healthy and balanced life. I have seen Keith be nothing but generous and giving of himself and his resources to others and over the past 10 years I have seen countless individuals lie to him, steal from him, slander him and put tremendous amounts of time and energy into thwarting his attempts to make a valuable contribution to society. The best explanation I can come up with is that new and different ideas are scary to people and that sometimes people do crazy things when they feel threatened… I hope humanity is not more malicious than that, but I have seen things that I seriously am in disbelief over, including events that took place over the weekend at the A Cappella Innovations festival.

For the past 8 years I have been the acting Director of Education for Executive Success Programs. In this capacity I have acted as a Trainer/Teacher of this model in over a dozen Countries including the US, Mexico, Canada, England, Ireland, Dubai, and India. I have trained staff and helped create and implement the evaluation standards to maintain proficiency in our educators. I am a trained speaker and presenter and have lead workshops for thousands of people internationally. In my spare time I produce and direct musical theater, a venture inspired by Keith who has devoted endless hours of time and energy to helping me train my vocalists and actors, design and construct my sets and fund my projects. Due to my experience in these areas I was asked to come and facilitate workshops at A Cappella Innovations.

Firstly I would like to say that I feel very honored to have been invited to participate. I can’t express the respect and admiration I have for all the performers, judges, organizers, etc. The arts and artistic expression are two things I value in my life and believe in promoting in the world.

I can go into all of my relationships and personal opinions of my friends, Keith, Nancy, Clare, Ally, Nicki, etc. but it seems like really the main concern on the table is what is NXIVM and what do we do.

As I see it there are two issues I (I will speak for myself) struggle with in answering this question:
#1 –Same issue as Napster and the reason for Intellectual Property in my opinion, people steal. It’s not secret because we don’t want others to know what we’re doing, it’s ours to distribute as we choose and we choose not to mass distribute it to the world. Most people in the entertainment industry can relate to having their stuff stolen and needing to take measures against this… Joan Osborne gave a concert in the Albany area a few years back in which she made a public request to those present that if they liked her music to please purchase it, and she shared her struggle and the destructive effects she was experiencing from the mass distribution of her music on the internet… I think it’s horrible that a performer should have to pretty please ask you not to steal their stuff because it bankrupts them. Same thing here.

#2 concern – Anything I say runs the risk of being contorted, read into, used against me… and when you have clearly defined, paid, adversaries looking to disparage and create ill will against you, and set up hate sites to do it, contacting anyone you do business with and threatening disrepute and slander against them if they continue to associate with you, seeking to destroy any new business that you start, any new friendship you make, seeking to inspire fear in your neighbors, community members and in the world at large, you learn to keep to yourself and go about your business.

Having said this, NXIVM has two objectives as I see them:
#1 – Help our participants achieve their own goals and objectives, personal or professional.
#2 – Help inspire a sense of interdependence and awareness of how we participate in and affect the world we live in – I would classify this category as Ethics and Humanity, but it’s in the vein of “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”.

The way we go about achieving these objectives is by helping our participants target the areas of limitation they are experiencing in achieving their goals. For example, if someone wants to be more successful in business, we seek to identify the limiting factors: sometimes these factors are emotional, like the person doesn’t have follow through, or they are afraid of confrontation. In this case we would seek to build follow through or explore why confrontation is so scary for the person. They may be missing a skill set, so we might teach them how to be a better manager by building the skill sets to do so – learning to delegate effectively for example. They may have a bad temper so we help them explore their relationship with their anger so that they can be more proactive and less reactive.

This is a pretty straightforward program, but there is a systematic method for helping people overcome their limitations that Keith came up with. It is based on concepts of math and biology and we have gotten good results using this tool to help people overcome fears and become more easily able to “walk their talk” so to speak. It is a simple method for evaluation of each person’s goals and values and very critical approach to breaking through personal road blocks by exploring where each person’s beliefs are not consistent with cause and effect. For example, if I believe that I am entitled to a raise in salary without earning it, this would not be consistent with the reality of how to earn a pay increase so we would explore the basis for the person’s belief that something outside of reality is a strong possibility and their justification for not working to earn what they want. Simple and common defenses like “it’s not fair” are not really going to help you function effectively if your objective is to earn more money. This process is very straightforward, highly effective, not mystical in nature and a trade secret.

The other thing we do is explore how to be more humanitarian and ethical. We don’t teach people what to think, we teach people how to think and evaluate the ethics of any situation to determine how best to uphold themselves and their values, how to uphold other people and interact with them in more civilized ways allowing for personal differences and recognizing we are all part of the human team.

If you have further questions about any of this you can contact me personally through Facebook and I’ll be happy to speak to you on an individual basis.

Please consider, the Salem Witch Trials were based on a similar type of logic as the cult accusations… If you accuse me of being in a cult, there is no possible way I could ever say I’m not and have you believe me because you can always say that I’m brainwashed.
This puts me in quite a bind…

Bottom line: What does NXIVM do that is bad? What does Keith do that is bad?

In 2001, a friend of mine was kidnapped in Mexico and held against his will for 3 months. His kidnappers cut off the tops of both of his ears and the pinky finger off his left hand and sent it home to his family in an attempt to extort a large sum of money.

Over a decade ago Keith ran a large corporation. He was accused of running a pyramid scheme. There were civil, not criminal, charges brought forth, and after extensive investigation, and over 20,000 witnesses to choose from, the case was dismissed because there was no proof that there was any cause for suit. All the negative publicity was shown to be false by the judgment in court and there was only one line ever publicized that all the negativity was unfounded and Keith’s company was the first multi-level-marketing company to ever win in court. Keith spent all the money the company made in an effort to defend himself and his vision. In the end, between the legal battles and the bad press, there was nothing left of the company.

Please note that the company in question was founded by 3 individuals: Keith Raniere, Pam Cafritz and Karen Unterreiner. If you know them at all (and many of you worked with Karen last weekend at ACI) it would be difficult to believe that they are sinister in any way.

Rick Ross is a convicted felon. He believes that holding individuals against their will is a valid method of helping “reform” them from brainwashing. He was found responsible in a court of law of this. What right does he have to deem other’s beliefs bad and forcibly hold them against their will until they change said beliefs? THIS IS CLEARLY AND MEASURABLY AN INFRINGEMENT ON BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Rick Ross has broken into a private home with the intent of burglary and pled guilty to this crime. He stole thousands of dollars of jewelry from a department store and was caught and pled guilty. He violated the terms of his probation for the above offenses. THESE ARE BAD THINGS. THEY ARE MEASURABLE THINGS.

To say Keith is creepy, shady, mal-intended is insubstantial. What has Keith done that is bad? What has NXIVM done that is bad other than to be labeled “cult” by someone paid to do so? Cult is a non-descript term used to inspire fear and distrust in people who are not critical in their thinking.

NXIVM has lawsuits against Rick Ross and his co-conspirators who stole our property (violating our constitutional property rights) and slandered us all over the internet, tarnishing our reputation in the public eye. We also have lawsuits against others who have stolen money and property from us and violated client confidentialities and privileges that are supposed to be upheld by our government. This does not make us a cult and to say we go after anyone who says anything negative is a huge contortion on the truth. We are willing to stand up for what is right and just. It’s right thing to do in my opinion.

On a final note:
I feel sad that people at ACI were affected in a negative way by whatever things affected them on all sides. There does remain the question of how do you help people learn to express themselves honestly, genuinely and without fear? I believe this is the goal of A Cappella Innovations. The workshops were set up to facilitate that process, and for many I think it was successful. I think the start of this thread, no matter how angry/fearful/misdirected it was, was set up to achieve the same objective… We’ll see how it turns out.
I still subscribe to the “Be the change you wish to see in the world” mentality. Gandhi was a smart guy. So’s Ben Stevens!

Lauren Salzman
Director of Education
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